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learning organization

Peter Senge? defined a learning organization systems "in a state of continuous adaptation and improvement?. That is, organizations that are adapted for maximum organizational learning? and that build feedback loops deliberately to maximize their own learning." Similarly, some define stupidity itself as the use of one's intelligence to minimize or retard learning.

ejects bad managers


Managers set the tone for an organization's learning, or not. There are many examples of management stupidity? in the literature, and even some icon?s or archetype?s of it, e.g. the Pointy Haired Boss from Dilbert. One way to define a learning organization is one that detects and ejects such people, after they have demonstrated repeated refusal to learn, and to help the organization learn. In the long term, however, any org must take responsibility for any errors it makes? in hiring?:

Poor managers are there because they are tolerated? - that is, they are not fired nor forced to resign. A main reason why is that most organizations over-value their own stability: even if many well-qualified people are presently interested in a job, for instance, they will not ever be interviewed for it until it is actually open. This means that at any given time, the best people are waiting on the outside and trying to get in, as worse people get "one more chance" inside.

A learning organization applies stricter standards to its managers than its staff. If it did not, staff would soon learn not to do what managers did, even if it had worked for the managers. But if the staff feels they can do anything managers do, because managers obey a stricter ethical code and etiquette than the workers, then management begins to serve as a good not a bad example - see moral example? for more on this general value theory?.

challenges assumptions


A learning organization is not one that lets staff or managers or even founders make the same mistakes over and over again - to grow, such an organization must challenge its own internal assumptions. Some examples of this being done in business:

  • The zero base budget? technique whereby an organization or division must redefine itself with each budget cycle?, with no prior assumptions about how it is organized or what model of activity-based costing? should apply. Such a technique ensures that every manager can justify the total cost of operations of every aspect of their division or work.
  • The throughput accounting model whereby efficient use of capital assets, rather than trying to squeeze labour for more efficiencies, assumes the problem is work process? rather than the diligence or skill with which people execute a process - the opposite of most organizations which define efficiency as the more rapid execution of their existing work process, good or bad.
  • The back to the floor? method whereby an executive must regularly visit the shop floor as an ordinary worker. In doing so, the manager encounters changes in technology and market demands much more viscerally than in any top-floor office suite?. A parliamentary democracy? does in fact require even the party leader to run for office? as an ordinary Member of Parliament?, in each general election?, and this probably does keep them in contact at least with MPs' needs.

green learning organization


In addition to such feedback from workers and customers and advisors, a green learning organization? would have to further take into account the impact on Earth's natural biodiversity and nature's services. That is, it would have to treat natural capital as a capital asset on par with other such assets. The Natural Capitalism view is that this is the key to the current green industrial revolution.

Since however it remains humans that do the job of learning and adapting the organization, it makes sense to remain focused on the human capital and its three components:
  • individual capital - that is, the creative and adaptive talent
  • social capital - that is, bonds or trust or signed contracts or the general willingness to help out someone without being paid - such commitment? being signalled by commit verbs used and agreed as meaningful to signal agreement and disagreement
  • instructional capital - that is, the rules and levers? by which the organization is run and by which its customers provide feedback: license?s, boilerplate? (unsigned) contracts, patents, feedback forms, software, ethical codes, Rules of Order

In this view, from human development theory?, learning? is "individuals using their social leverage to modify instructions". The learning organization is then one that "uses that social leverage, spread them to get more people following those instructions and trusting the group." - quoting Craig Hubley.

There could probably be no better description of a Green Party than that! Greens seek to form a new social contract wherein ecological wisdom and nonviolence have status higher than other instructions, and where social justice and participatory democracy maintain constant and somewhat equal human attention to the degree to which it is doing that.

learning a green party


The Green Party of Canada variously refers to Four Pillars, Six Principles or Ten Key Values as its core values?. The GPC Constitution specifies Six Principles after the Global Greens Charter?, extending Four Pillars. The Ten Key Values are now policy not social contract.

There are various approaches to dealing with the GPC as a learning organization.

For a more general neutral reference read the GFDL corpus article en: wikipedia: learning organization(external link) which has links to many other resources.


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